Former Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) bosses, Henrietta Rushwaya and Edzai Kasinauyo and ex-national team assistant coach, Nation Dube, who were facing match-fixing charges, were yesterday acquitted by a Harare magistrate after making a determination that the State had failed to prove a prima-facie case against them. BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Magistrate, Lucy Mungwari castigated the attitude of the State’s star witness and whistleblower, Leeroy Waguta, who she accused of being unreliable and lacking seriousness by his continuous use of the words “it’s like” throughout his testimony.
Mungwari also took a swipe at suspended Zifa technical director, Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe for informing everyone, including the Press, of the messages on national team coach, Kalisto Pasuwa’s phone despite the latter being reluctant to file a report.
“Jongwe was overzealous by reporting the matter to the Office of the President and informing everyone, including the Press, without due processes being followed,” she said. “The court was left wondering how Jongwe got hold of the messages from Pasuwa’s phone.”
The magistrate further said Pasuwa’s testimony lacked crucial evidence to nail the suspects since he distanced himself from the matter, arguing he kept the messages to himself because he did not believe them.
“Pasuwa’s testimony failed to incriminate Kasinauyo, whom he said was putting pressure on him to release the team sheet, but the court cannot incriminate someone for pressure exerted by the accused,” Mungwari said.
Commenting on goalkeeper, Tatenda Mukuruva’s evidence, Mungwari said the witness did not give any evidence linking the accused persons to the matter, as he denied any knowledge about the existence of a match-fixing scandal.
Mungwari also concurred with the defence that Waguta was an unreliable witness, who could do anything for money.
“Waguta proved he is not a reliable witness. His testimony was full of inconsistencies. At one point, he said the meetings were attended by two people and, on the other, he said it was attended by three people, a clear sign of untruthfulness,” she said, adding: “The court is of view that Waguta can do anything for money and what motivated him to come and testify against the accused will remain unknown.”
Turning to former Zifa CEO, Jonathan Mashingaidze’s testimony, the magistrate said he clearly told the court the accused were brought to court without any board resolution.
The three were accused of having been part of a cartel, which haboured plans to fix the Zimbabwe versus Swaziland Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in March.
It was alleged that they planned to offer at least three players money, includingMukuruva and two unnamed defenders, so that they could let goals in and Zimbabwe lose the matches.